Stop Website Panic! Don’t rebuild until you read this.

Is a new website really going to solve your business problems?

Websites are meant to change.  Users like to go to websites where they can find something new and useful. Search engines favor sites where they can find the latest information. The problem usually is the human website owner.  A lot of people have trouble with change, especially when they are stressed and maybe business isn’t going as well. Sometimes sticking with what they know best and has worked in the past makes things easier.

The Role of Your Webmaster

As a webmaster you have to constantly battle between two very important, but very different sides of your job. On one hand you have the “website as a project”, a project with a beginning and end, a client with a deadline and a deliverable or finished product that people are expecting. I am not sure how this came about, but our industry of web development was built on a project model. Get started, get it done, move on to the next project and its hard not to operate any differently.

On the other hand you have the webmaster as a care taker of your business property. The website is a living thing, meant to change and since it is a member of your business team, should also be expected to perform at a high level in order to grow the business. When you are working on the performance of your website, you realize this cannot be a project with a beginning and an end. You will be constantly monitoring what the website is doing and making changes and hoping to grow the amount of business you can generate from your site.

Over the last five years,  website design has changed quite a bit.  Many successful sites favor the care taker model,  where continuous change is made to the website.  When was the last time you saw a site like Amazon or Apple do a complete overhaul and relaunch the site?  Instead what you see is the fundamentals of the design and branding staying put, while incremental changes are made based on what is or is not working.

Unfortunately this is not the norm and somehow a lot of business owners missed this lesson.  Instead what you find is Business Owner Website Panic.

What is Business Owner Website Panic?

Website Panic typically happens because things are not going well with the business as a whole.  Some how business crisis turns to website crisis and then we are back to trying to make major change under stress.

Here are some scenarios that are a recipe for disaster:

  • You have ignored the business website for months and now need some leads off your site.  When it doesn’t work right away,  you panic and immediately look for someone to do it over.
  • Your competitor just launched a major overhaul of their website.  You like their site so much better and want to find a way to copy it.  Since the competitor designed their site this way, it MUST really work and it MUST be generating tons of business.
  • Someone just told you (someone could be a friend, a customer, your sales person) that they could not immediately find your company website on Google.  Since you are number one in your industry, there should be no reason why you are not showing up number one in Google and when you search for your business website, you always find it at number one.
  • You got a call or email from some firm that reviewed your website and listed all these problems that they found on your site.  You feel blind-sided because you had no idea your website was in such bad shape and start worrying about all the business you are missing that should be coming from your website.

What is the end result when you build a website in a panic?

What happens when the Business Owner gives in to the website panic?  To give you an example,  we had a client recently that wanted a boost for their business and part of that boost was going to come from a new website.  Thus began the website redesign process and a few months and a few thousand dollars later,  the site the Business Owner is happy with and wants to go live with a brand new site  is pretty close to the site they already had.  I wish I could say this was unusual, but panic is never a good scenario for innovation.  When you are in a panic or under stress, it becomes more difficult to make decisions and change is a lot scarier.

If your website is not working, a complete redesign should not be the go-to option.   When someone out of the blue calls you up and says there is something wrong, question it.  There are lots of free diagnostic tools you could run yourself to find out if there is something wrong.  Do you need proof that you are showing up in Google?  Use Google Search Console, its free and it will tell you if you are having problems showing up in searches.

Just because your competitor does something to their website, does not guarantee it will be a huge success.  Great example,  I have someone on a weekly basis asking me if they should add a pop-up to their website to collect user data.  The reason for doing this is because they have seen it on a bunch of websites, so it must be good.  I then explain to each of these website owners about the new Google Pop-Up penalty and immediately the great idea everyone else is doing isn’t so great.

How can your Webmaster help alleviate the stress/panic?

Without some analysis,  you are doomed to repeat the same mistakes with every website redesign.  By tearing down and starting over you loose all the ability to learn from the current setup, what is working and what is not working.

Your Webmaster can provide data and advice to help make informed decisions on what should be done with your business website, examples would include:

  • Success metrics that you should look at to determine website success and the data to show your performance against these metrics over time.
  • A review of your website code or underlying technology of your website, to confirm or deny that people and search engines can access your website just fine.
  • Profile of your business in search results – how are you doing,  where are the opportunities and what changes are critical.

I know as a business owner myself,  if I have the information in front of me and can get a clear picture of what is going on,  I am less likely to be stressed out about a phone call or a comment someone makes about my business,  especially our website.

The next time you start to panic about your business website,  just talk to a Webmaster and you will feel much better.